These are my first pictures from Graspop Metal Meeting. I thought I’d introduce the festival first. It takes place every last weekend of July in Dessel, Belgium, near Antwerp. It had the highest amount visitors so far in 2008 – 135.000 people, which makes it one of the biggest metal festivals in Europe. Wacken, for example, has about 80.000 visitors.
This year the headliners were The Scorpions (Friday), Ozzy Osbourne (Saturday) and Slipknot (Sunday). 75 bands played.
Here’s a map of the festival ground, which I downloaded from the German Graspop forum http://www.graspopmetalmeeting.de. I only downloaded this to show you guys though, because at the festival we were actually able to use a free GMM Android app! It had the schedule and map, so I really needed nothing else!
My only criticism of the festival is that it is not so easy to find! When we left the highway, there was a sign “festival”, which is nice, but it really should say which festival it is, I mean, how am I supposed to know there’s not a Jazz festival happening in the next village or something? We followed the sign and it lead us to a construction site which blocked the road. There was an official sign, not from the festival but from the city, that redirected us, but that did not say “festival” or anything, just “deviation”. We followed this sign for a while and already got worried that we were going in the wrong direction, because there were no more “festival” signs to be seen… until we finally spied a sign that said “GMM receptie”, which means reception, so we figured this is where we had to go to exchange our e-tickets for wristbands or something. There was no other sign related to the festival, so we followed this one. We drove past the correct parking lot twice, because the next “receptie” sign was kind of ambiguous and also there was not a soul in the parking lot so we thought this can’t be it. When we got out of the car, there was once again no sign telling us where to go, so after some searching we found some stairs that lead us to a reception area. Only it turned out to be for deliveries, not for visitors. From the look on the faces of the people who worked there we could tell that we were not the first ones who came there by accident. They were very friendly though and gave us a small map and showed us on it how to get to the actual festival parking lot! This time we found it! Wohoo! There were several pastures and each of them was reserved for a certain type of ticket holder – combi or day. We got on quickly and there was no problem, except that once you were on the right pasture, there were no people there to direct you. You could chose the spot to park in all on your own and stupid as people are, that did not work in all cases: Some cars had been blocked and it was obvious that there was no chance for them to leave before some others did! Anyways, when we got out of the car and walked off the parking lot, we arrived at a crossing: 4 possible ways to go and once again no sign what so ever! While we were standing there contemplating our options a Belgian guy asked us if we knew which was the way to the festival. He then asked other people and was told where to go and we followed him. After about 20 minutes of walking we finally arrived at the festival site. Getting the wristbands and getting on the festival ground was super quick and easy, but sadly because of all the problems before EPICA had already started playing when we arrived.
Now let me tell you a little about the festival site itself, which is amazing! When you have your wristband and have been checked for bottles, weapons etc., the camping ground is on your right, the festival ground on your left – so when you want to go back and forth between the stages and your tent, you do not have to go through security again, which is very convenient. The festival ground has a huge restaurant tent, where people who camp can have all kinds of breakfast, but which also served us as a dry place to sit when we were on a break in between shows. In fact I spent several hours in that tent and there were people playing cards and stuff. There were also many many ATMs and even a wagon with actual bank employees in it. The restroom facilities were cleaned all the time and I’d say the number of them was well chosen. There were no super long lines of people waiting… at least not of people smart enough to walk to the back and not just stand in the first line they see! 😉
There was also a giant amount of different food stands. I’d like to introduce to all of you my favorite – De Lachende Poffer!!!
They sell Poffertjes, which are essentially mini pancakes (size of a 2 EUR coin) with powdered sugar. The festival site also has a saloon and all kinds of attractions like bumper cars and a soapy slide. There’s a “festival fair” where you can buy merchandize, jewellery and things like that. The ground is very sandy, which is awesome! I’ve seen pictures of Germany’s Southside festival were people were standing in mud up to the middle of their shins, but in Dessel that’s not a problem. I wore my rubber boots in vain!
As of the stages, there’s 4. There’s the main stage, which is the only open air one. This is it:
The other ones are tents, so called “marquees”. Two big ones and the smaller metal dome.
That’s it for now, next time I’ll post some pics and videos of the shows I’ve seen!